by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 2 Study # 7 March 22, 2009 Lincolnton, N.C.
8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
1901 ASV Translation:
8 whom not having seen ye love; on whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice greatly with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
9 receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
I. Loving the Invisible Christ.
A. Peter says his readers have not seen Him.
1. This has to mean that their Love/Faith involvement with Him is unrelated to any visual witness of Him.
a. They did not walk with Him while He was on the planet; nor did they have occasion to hear His voice as He taught.
b. This automatically means they were not witnesses of any of His works, nor of His death, burial, and resurrection.
2. This has to mean that their Love/Faith involvement is rooted in things not empirical.
a. Romans 10:17 says that Faith comes "out of hearing". Galatians 3:2 says that the receiving of the Spirit comes "out of a hearing of faith". In that context, the apostle declares such a "hearing" as the making of a "beginning by the Spirit".
b. Thus, this involvement with Christ is by an actual "hearing" of true words and a Spirit-related generation of "faith". Just as the "hearing" was not produced by the hearers, so also the Spirit's generation of faith is not theirs to control.
c. But the writing of such information is an important factor. Paul would not have written to confront their movement away from the "hearing of faith" to "works of Law" if the writing was not, itself, an integral aspect of the process. Thus, the "hearing" includes the written confrontation. Without the "hearing", the drift into the process of the flesh is unarrested. But a hearing alone will not stop the drift; the Spirit must apply it to the heart and mind of the hearer or it will be rejected.
3. If Love and Faith are not rooted in things empirical at the level of the individual participant, what is the actual point of the empirical in any case? If the incarnation was required by the necessity that Christ be "of man" as a second Adam, we have a reason for the incarnation, but, since none of the things that occurred afterwards had any capacity to generate a redeeming faith (Mary certainly stumbled badly in spite of being a 24/7 witness of Jesus for years and years -- Mark 3:21 compared with 3:31-35), what was their reason for being? Why could man not simply "hear" that God had done what was necessary to redeem them? This is exactly what the vast majority of human beings "get" in any case. In fact, even the crucifixion's real point was hidden from the eyes of men. The observers could not see Him actually endure the consequences of Sin; what they observed was pretty much the same thing that was observed every time a man was crucfied; an event that was repeated hundreds of times under Roman dominion. It is true that the centurion who observed Jesus' behavior said "Truly this man was the Son of God" (Mark 15:39), but why did he "see" that and not everyone else standing about? Even the disciples who had spent years both hearing and watching were unable to believe at that point (Luke 24:21).
a. This is not a question about the need to "hear" -- though, I suppose, that rabbit trail could be profitably pursued -- but is a question about the need to have the things that were to be heard done in time and history with only a few witnesses.
b. The real issue here regards the Spirit and His part in the Plan. Clearly He is the deciding catalyst, not the things heard. That, apparently, they must be heard before He can be that catalyst is established (faith comes by hearing), but the hearing is not, in any real sense, a fundamental root of faith: too many hear and believe not.
B. Peter says his readers "love" Him.
1. This is an amazing declaration, and becomes even more amazing when we ferret the deceptions regarding "love" out of the equation and settle into what it really means to "love" Him.
a. It is such an elemental aspect of most people's grasp of "love" that it involves the dependency of the "lover" that it is almost impossible to get over that delusion.
b. Nevertheless, God's love is not rooted in His "need" that we do something for Him, and, therefore, true "love" is not to be found there.
c. The real issue of "love" is the willingness of the "lover" to go to whatever lengths are necessary to procure for the beloved whatever it is that he/she needs.
d. But, in a real sense, people cannot "love" God in that form: He needs nothing.
2. Peter is actually claiming that his readers are willing to go to whatever lengths are necessary to do what God wants done. He has decreed an eventual kingdom made up of creatures. As creatures, they will never be "needless". Thus God "wants" His people to be His instruments for the meeting of needs in others who "need".